There is more to Seattle’s downtown than tall buildings and Pike Place Market. With its rich history and vibrant culture, Downtown is a cool place to live, too.
The original Downtown looked a lot different than it does today; wooden buildings, a saw mill, steeper hills. Two major events changed it all: the Seattle fire of 1889, which burned most of Downtown to the ground, and the Denny Regrade, a thirty-year-long project that tamed the slopes of Denny Hill. Add in the major growth of skyscrapers, roadways such as I-5 and the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and the Seattle Center, and you’ve literally got a city that has rebuilt itself out of the ashes.
Many historic landmarks have been preserved however, like the Smith tower, Pioneer Square, and Pike Place Market. You can still take a tour of “underground Seattle” to see the remarkable still-intact structures that were just covered up and built on top of after the fire.
To say that the vibe here is “lively” seems like an understatement. Dynamic? That’s closer. Exuberant? Better still. Whatever word you choose to describe it, Downtown is the place to be if you want nonstop activity, love being surrounded by interesting people, and want to see something new every day. Obviously, there are major events going on here regularly, but it’s just as easy to find your own little hideaway that only a resident would know about.
Activities and Attractions
This part shouldn’t be hard, but it is. How can we boil down the busiest neighborhood in the city to just a few recommended activities? Especially when they’re always changing, after all, and there are as many things to choose from as there are different tastes in hobbies?
We could state the cultural stuff, like the Seattle Art Museum or the Symphony at Benaroya Hall. There are theaters and performance halls for every type of entertainment—the Paramount, 5th Avenue Theater, and the Showbox, just to name a few.
Or we could mention the retail scene. If shopping is your thing, Westlake Center and Pacific Place have a mix of high-end and regular retailers, not to mention all of the one-of-a-kind boutiques and home furnishing stores that line any given street in the area.
Then there’s the touristy stuff. If you’re into sightseeing, spend an afternoon on the piers on the waterfront, or maybe take a tour on an Argosy cruise boat or at Let’s Go Sailing. The Smith Tower offers rides up to the observation deck so you can see the view of the whole city.
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